10 Places to Stay Near Shawnee National Forest

Do you need a place to stay near Shawnee National Forest?

You’re not from Southern Illinois. You don’t know your way around that well. There are so many little towns around the Shawnee National Forest. You don’t know where to stay to get the best out of your trip. I bet it’s exhausting to figure out a place to stay near Shawnee National Forest.

But now is not the time to be upset because you’ve landed on Hiking with Shawn! I know the Shawnee! I know the towns! I know the best places to go if you’ve never been here! And I love helping other people enjoy Shawnee and Southern Illinois.

So check out this article to find 10 of the best places to stay near Shawnee National Forest.

Places to Stay Near Shawnee National Forest on the East Side

Here are some of the best places to stay near Shawnee National Forest on the east side. Garden of Gods, Rim Rock, Cave-in-Rock, Jackson Falls, Hayes Creek Canyon, and Lake Glendale are here.


1 – Karbers Ridge Area

This area is closest to some of the best places to hike in the Shawnee National Forest, including the Garden of the Gods and the Rim Rock National Recreation Trail.

This area has plenty of campgrounds, including Pine Ridge at Pounds Hollow (swimming beach included!), Camp Cadiz, and Pharaoh Campground at Garden of the Gods. There are cabins available in this area, too.

Check out Garden of the Gods Outpost and towns like Equality and Cave-in-Rock for dining and shopping.

For some unique sightseeing opportunities, visit the Illinois Iron Furnace or take a free ride on a ferry across the Ohio River and back.


2- Harrisburg Area

Harrisburg is a great choice because it’s a central hub around so many different areas to hike, ride horses, and even enjoy a bike ride. Take a hike at Old Stoneface. Enjoy a bike ride on Tunnel Hill State Trail and the Eldorado Trail System.

There are plenty of places to stay around Harrisburg. There are hotels and many different cabin outfitters. You can go camping at Glen O Jones Lake, which has spots where you can even launch your kayak from.

Harrisburg is full of different businesses for dining and shopping.

If you plan your visit right, you could even stay near Shawnee National Forest in Harrisburg during the Sasquatch Fest for great music, food, and entertainment. Check out the Early Pioneer Village in Harrisburg for great sightseeing.

Stay Near Shawnee National Forest

3 – Vienna Area

Vienna is a small community with a lot going on for it. Staying around Vienna gives you access to some awesome spots around the Shawnee National Forest. Enjoy kayaking at Dutchman Lake, hiking at Heron Pond, horseback riding at Max Creek, and cycling on Tunnel Hill State Trail.

There are tons of places to stay and camp around Vienna. There are cabins in the area. The Shawnee Forest Campground is great for campers and RVs. And Vienna even has a hotel.

There are great places to eat and shop while you’re staying near Shawnee National Forest in the Vienna area.

While in the Vienna area, be sure to go sightseeing at the Tunnel at Tunnel Hill (short walk or bike ride) and Wetlands Center near Karnak.


4 – Golconda Area

Golconda is one of the oldest communities in Southern Illinois. It’s a small community and the county seat of Pope County. It’s home to the area where Dixon Springs State Park is located. Lake Glendale is also in this area. There are plenty of places to hike, ride horses, bike, and kayak around Golconda.

Golconda’s community limits offer a few great options if you need a place to stay. You can also camp at Dixon Springs and Lake Glendale. There are quite a few cabin outfitters around Golconda, too.

Golconda and the general area have a lot of great places to eat and shop. And for Ice Cream and chocolatey treats, you have to stop at the Chocolate Factory. You don’t want to miss that!

For sightseeing in the area, check out the Historic Golconda Riverfront. Try to visit during the Deer Fest if you enjoy hunting and the Shrimp Fest if you enjoy freshwater shrimp and entertainment.


5 – Metropolis Area

Metropolis isn’t just a quiet little Ohio River town in Southern Illinois. It’s the home of the first State Park in Illinois, Fort Massac State Park. It’s also near Mermet Lake and the Cache River State Natural Area. There is plenty of hiking, biking, paddling, and riding opportunities around the Metropolis.

You have plenty of options if you want to stay near Shawnee National Forest in the Metropolis area. There are cabins, hotels, and inns for you to enjoy. Camping is available in the state park.

Metropolis and surrounding areas have plenty of great shopping centers to enjoy. There are also quite a few places to eat and places to get sweet treats.

For site seeing, Metropolis is the Official Home of Superman. Check out the Superman Statue and try to visit during the Superman Festival. The Fort Massac Encampment is also worth visiting if you can make it.


Places to Stay Near Shawnee National Forest on the West Side

On the west side of the Shawnee National Forest, you’ll find Snake Road, Kinkaid Lake, Little Grand Canyon, Giant City, and Ferne Clyffe. These are some of the best places to stay near Shawnee National Forest on the west side of Southern Illinois.


6 – Carbondale Area

Carbondale is the hub of the west side of the Shawnee National Forest. It’s close to many great areas, including Cedar Lake and Pomona Natural Bridge. Carbondale also has quite a few short hiking trails and nature preserves within its city limited to enjoy.

If you need a place to stay, many options exist in and around Carbondale. There are hotels, Airbnb, inns, cabins, and camping available.

Carbondale has many great places to eat and shop. As a university city, you can enjoy diverse dining and shopping establishments.

For sightseeing in the area, check out Southern Illinois University events, arts, and other cool stuff Carbondale Tourism offers.


7 – Goreville Area

Goreville is a great place to stay near Shawnee National Forest. It’s close to many great areas, including Ferne Clyffe State Park, Panther Den Wilderness, and Lake of Egypt. You’ll find plenty of places to hike, bike, ride horses, and enjoy water activities around Goreville.

There are plenty of places to stay around Goreville. You can enjoy cabins, camping at the State Park, and Airbnb rentals.

Goreville has a few great places to eat, including Whiffle Boy’s Pizza. There are some craft and antique stores to enjoy around Goreville, too.

While staying around Goreville for sightseeing opportunities, stop by Tunnel Hill State Trail and Bork Falls.


8 – Makanda Area

Makanda is one of the most traditional hippy towns in southern Illinois. And they’re proud of it. Even the water tower is a big yellow smiley face. Makanda is close to many great places to enjoy nature, including Giant City State Park, Touch of Nature Mountain Bike Trails, and Rocky Bluff Waterfalls.

There are a lot of lodging options available around Makanda. Makanda Inn is near the park; camping is available at the State Park, cabins, and more.

There are plenty of dining and shopping options around Makanda. Giant City Lodge has some of the best-fried chicken around. Visit the Makanda boardwalk for unique gift items and treats.

For sightseeing opportunities, be sure to visit the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail.


9 – Alto Pass Area

Alto Pass is a great little village to stay in near Shawnee National Forest. It’s close to many great outdoor recreation spots, including its Quetil Trail and Cliff View Park, Trail of Tears State Forest, and Bald Knob Wilderness.

Alto Pass has plenty of lodging options in and around the village. Camping is available at Trail of Tears State Forest.

Alto Pass has dining and shopping within the community. There’s even a Bourbon Bar.

For sightseeing, visit Bald Knob Cross of Peace and Rendleman Orchard.


10 – Murphysboro Area

Murphysboro is one of the closest communities to the Mississippi River. You can find many great places to enjoy the outdoors around the Murphysboro area. Visit Snake Road for the annual snake migration. Visit Piney Creek Ravine to see ancient Native American rock art. Enjoy Kinkaid Lake and its trail system. Check out the view at Inspiration Point.

There are plenty of places to stay near Shawnee National Forest around Murphysboro. Enjoy the comforts of hotels or the unique stays in cabin rentals nearby. Camping is available at Pine Hills and Kinkaid Lake.

Murphysboro has some great places to eat and shop within its city limits.

When visiting the Murphysboro area for sightseeing, visit during the Apple Festival and check out the Holy Boulders Climbing events.


As you can see, there are many places to stay near Shawnee National Forest. Each community has different lodging options, dining, shopping, and sightseeing. They’re all around the best parts of the Shawnee National Forest and our state parks. Remember – you’ll have a better and more unique experience choosing to stay, dine, and shop at a local Mom and Pop business than a chain establishment. You’ll have better memories, and you’ll support our local businesses. If you enjoyed this article and want to see more like it, subscribe to my free monthly newsletter.

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Thanks again for checking out another one of my articles and until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!

Shawn Gossman

Shawn Gossman

Founder, Hiking with Shawn

Howdy folks! My name is Shawn Gossman and I founded Hiking with Shawn. I’m an avid hiker, cyclist and outdoorsman here in the Shawnee National Forest. I was born and raised in Southern Illinois and never want to leave. Click here to learn more about Shawn Gossman

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